Bordered with the incredible Great Barrier Reef and surrounded by mountains, Townsville was truly a remarkably photogenic place!

Nearing a permanent move from Australia back to my home in England, I decided to travel north to visit a friend at the end of 2018. I stayed at my friend’s house for 9 nights, including two extra, unexpected nights. My flight landed in the evening, so we drove back to his house, had dinner and just caught up. We hadn’t seen each other face to face for almost 6 years, it was very strange not seeing him on a Facetime call! We watched one of our joint well-liked films (Blow with Johnny Depp, if you’re wondering) and had a relaxing night, despite the intense humidity.

Naturally, we started the next day with a local tour and a lovely walk to Willows Shopping Centre, through a forest area with wild bush turkeys and a river full of little turtles, which we observed for quite some time. We got a bus to Stockland, another shopping centre, bought some snacks and then got a bus into the city. Townsville was not a place I had previously researched about travelling to, it was a personal trip more than a holiday so I had no expectations but the city itself was really nice; situated between golden beaches and mountains, the city was very peaceful. We made our way to the Strand, the main beach foreshore.

We found shade on a grassy cliff, overlooking the sea with Magnetic Island in the distance, where we ate our food, attracted a flock of seagulls and chatted. The ocean looked so inviting, you almost forget it’s full of some deadly creatures, which I thankfully reminded myself before I took a dive in unprotected. Despite this, although I didn’t get to this time round, I would very much like to snorkel or dive around the Great Barrier Reef and, if the thought of the sometimes-deceptive marine life doesn’t deter you, I would recommend it as the Reef looks absolutely stunning in pictures so I can’t imagine what it looks like up close.

My friend on the grassy cliffside with Magnetic Island in the background

The next day we headed back to the Strand, only this time with beach attire and towels! We decided to walk along Jezzine Way and Kissing Point, though it was incredibly hot and with our luggage in tow, we were sweating and wanting for shade, rest and, of course, ice cream. We made our way back to the shops and sat inside Juliette’s Gelateria, where we got some sorbet – I had the wild berry sorbet and it was amazing – it was so fruity and refreshing! We ambled back to the beach and found a nice shady spot under a palm tree and admired the gorgeous view of Magnetic Island over the crystal sea. You can never go wrong with a chill beach day; we splashed around in the water, basked in the sun and chilled in the shade.

Palm trees and ocean view at the Strand beach

We woke up extra early to catch the ferry to Magnetic Island; upon arriving we got a map of the Island and decided where we wanted to go throughout the day. There is an abundance of activities to do on the Island however we had to be 21 or over to hire buggies and vehicles like that, so we couldn’t partake in some, being out of age range by an annoying couple of years! Nevertheless, we got an all day bus pass and rode to Horseshoe Bay through the dense forestry on the island – the vibe was so chill and beachy, we loved it. We hid our bags in the bushes and walked, more like hopped, from the excruciatingly hot sand into the cool shallows of the water and strolled up the beach. We eventually got to some sand dunes and, after climbing them, discovered an almost hidden bit of beach with a pool of water. Though, it was surrounded by marshes and, despite there not being a sign for them, it looked like crocodile territory, so we thought we’d be safe and leave.

After eating lunch we’d prepared the night earlier, we got the bus to the entrance of the Forts Walk, an exhilarating hike through trees that have one of the largest wild koala populations in Northern Australia, although we didn’t spot one – much to our dismay. Once you get to the end of the trail, you arrive at an intact WWII observation tower, which allows you to have mesmerising 360° views of the Island and surrounding Coral Sea. We were quite tired by the time we reached it, having to carry our bags coupled with the unforgiving heat, so we rested, hydrated ourselves and soaked in the view. Eventually we decided to head back down and we went to another beach called Arcadia, where my friend went in the sea for a swim, while I relaxed under a palm tree and admired the natural beauty surrounding me. Magnetic Island really was such a magnificent place, I highly recommend the ferry trip to anyone who visits Townsville, especially if you love beautiful beaches! Once we got home we assessed the sunburn damage and it was not good! Though we’d applied sunscreen every hour, we were both still burnt – so I also recommend to anyone, especially with a fair complexion, to apply LOTS of sunscreen regularly if you visit the Island or even Northern Australia in general!

View of Magnetic Island and the Coral Sea from the Forts Walk

The day after, with our sunburn still fresh, my friend decided there was a must-see destination while I was up North, so we did the hour long drive to Crystal Creek and it was most definitely worth it. Driving up the mountainside with the dry, Australian farmland below, with a glimpse of the sea in the distance was a spectacle in itself, however it did not prepare me for the vast lushness of the bright green tropics of the Creek. We went to Big Crystal Creek first, my friend went for another swim while I stayed on the rocks in the shade, admiring my incredible surroundings. We eventually decided to go to Little Crystal Creek, which has a cute waterfall and has more greenery than the desert oasis feel of the Big Creek. Both creeks were beautiful, really nice places to swim, explore or even just to relax for a bit! If you don’t mind the travel, you should definitely take the time to visit Crystal Creek!

The waterfall at Little Crystal Creek

Being a museum lover, it was only right for me to visit at least one during my visit to Townsville, so we made our way into the city and went to the Museum of Tropical Queensland. It was really interesting as, apart from the Titanic, I haven’t done much research into maritime history but after a volunteer spoke to us about the HMS Pandora, it did pique my interest and I found it quite fascinating. The Museum wasn’t too big but it was very informative, which is all you could really hope for from a museum! On the way out I noticed one of my beloved penny press machines, however in the process of pressing my penny, the machine broke and we had to get a worker, who jested with me about breaking his machine. If you are interested in maritime history, or specifically the HMS Pandora, then the Museum would be a great place to visit to refresh or enhance your knowledge!

After leaving the Museum, we ventured to the Reef HQ Aquarium, which specifically contributes to the conservation and education of the Great Barrier Reef and its marine life. Though not very big, it was as peaceful as any other aquarium and just as enjoyable! I personally love aquariums, sitting and watching fish and other sea life swim around is quite therapeutic in my opinion – with the sound of the water swishing around or the relaxing music that all aquariums seem to play in the background. We enjoyed waking around and listening to the various talks about the underwater creatures.

A seahorse at the Reef HQ Aquarium in front of my friend

Travelling to and from a small but more convenient airport definitely had pros and cons, pros being it was closer to home, cons being very few flights landed there. After packing and arriving at the airport, we heard an announcement that my flight had been delayed until 1 in the morning. I had to reschedule as this wasn’t convenient for me or my family who would have to collect me from the airport, which meant a couple of extra days due to the lack of aforementioned flights! This, of course, was not a problem as it meant I could spend more time with my friend (and his beautiful pet cat Penny) after missing out on face to face time for almost 6 years.

My friend’s adorable cat Penny posing for the camera

It was amazing to visit Townsville and catch up with my friend and I definitely recommend it to those who love intense heat, beautiful beaches and hidden tropical spots to relax and escape the chaos of cities!

Thank you for reading and, as always, if you have any recommendations, questions or comments then they are welcome!

Never stop wandering!

Header photo: View of Magnetic Island from the Strand beach in Townsville, Australia
Date visited: October 2018

Wondering where Townsville is? Click ‘show more’ to see it on the map!

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